listening illustration
joe villon

We don’t know what we’d do without Cara de Silva, who almost daily sends us something moving and interesting. Even if we don’t post it, we feel like she threw a gift our way: something we would have otherwise missed. This weekend she alerted us to a stunning piece in the New York Times written by novelist Henning Mankell (famous for his dark and beautifully-rendered crime novels). Mankell writes about the art of listening and the importance of story-telling in everyday life, his great lessons from living in Africa for nearly 25 years. It is a quick, essential read: a perfectly written story in itself, rich with images and wisdom Henkell learned…by listening.

“…It struck me as I listened to those two men that a truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans, the storytelling person. What differentiates us from animals is the fact that we can listen to other people’s dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires and defeats — and they in turn can listen to ours.

Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.

So if I am right that we are storytelling creatures, and as long as we permit ourselves to be quiet for a while now and then, the eternal narrative will continue.

Many words will be written on the wind and the sand, or end up in some obscure digital vault. But the storytelling will go on until the last human being stops listening. Then we can send the great chronicle of humanity out into the endless universe.

 Who knows? Maybe someone is out there, willing to listen …

We’ve often written how listening is an essential key to improvising: listening to the ideas the seem to come out of nowhere, listening to our instincts to try something, listening to the materials we are working with…Listening is a practice.

What is the story you want to tell?


Thanks Cara! 

Related posts: lines ballet’s alonso king: waking up our internal teacher
fast forward’s rain music
improvising as listening pt.2
improvising as “listening”

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